1 These are the words Moses spoke to all Israel across the Jordan in the wilderness, in the Arabah opposite Suph,[a] between Paran and Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth, and Di-zahab. 2 It is an eleven-day journey from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea by way of Mount Seir. 3 In the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first of the month, Moses told the Israelites everything the Lord had commanded him to say to them. 4 This was after he had defeated King Sihon of the Amorites, who lived in Heshbon, and King Og of Bashan, who lived in Ashtaroth, at Edrei. 5 Across the Jordan in the land of Moab, Moses began to explain this law, saying:
Departure from Horeb
6 “The Lord our God spoke to us at Horeb: ‘You have stayed at this mountain long enough. 7 Resume your journey and go to the hill country of the Amorites and their neighbors in the Arabah, the hill country, the Judean foothills,[b] the Negev and the sea coast—to the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon as far as the great river, the Euphrates River. 8 See, I have set the land before you. Enter and take possession of the land the Lord swore to give to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and their future descendants.’
Leaders for the Tribes
9 “I said to you at that time: I can’t bear the responsibility for you on my own. 10 The Lord your God has so multiplied you that today you are as numerous as the stars of the sky. 11 May the Lord, the God of your ancestors, increase you a thousand times more, and bless you as he promised you. 12 But how can I bear your troubles, burdens, and disputes by myself? 13 Appoint for yourselves wise, understanding, and respected men from each of your tribes, and I will make them your leaders.
14 “You replied to me, ‘What you propose to do is good.’
15 “So I took the leaders of your tribes, wise and respected men, and set them over you as leaders: commanders for thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens, and officers for your tribes. 16 I commanded your judges at that time: Hear the cases between your brothers, and judge rightly between a man and his brother or his resident alien. 17 Do not show partiality when deciding a case; listen to small and great alike. Do not be intimidated by anyone, for judgment belongs to God. Bring me any case too difficult for you, and I will hear it. 18 At that time I commanded you about all the things you were to do.
Israel’s Disobedience at Kadesh-barnea
19 “We then set out from Horeb and went across all the great and terrible wilderness you saw on the way to the hill country of the Amorites, just as the Lord our God had commanded us. When we reached Kadesh-barnea, 20 I said to you: You have reached the hill country of the Amorites, which the Lord our God is giving us. 21 See, the Lord your God has set the land before you. Go up and take possession of it as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has told you. Do not be afraid or discouraged.
22 “Then all of you approached me and said, ‘Let’s send men ahead of us, so that they may explore the land for us and bring us back a report about the route we should go up and the cities we will come to.’ 23 The plan seemed good to me, so I selected twelve men from among you, one man for each tribe. 24 They left and went up into the hill country and came to Eshcol Valley, scouting the land. 25 They took some of the fruit from the land in their hands, carried it down to us, and brought us back a report: ‘The land the Lord our God is giving us is good.’
26 “But you were not willing to go up. You rebelled against the command of the Lord your God. 27 You grumbled in your tents and said, ‘The Lord brought us out of the land of Egypt to hand us over to the Amorites in order to destroy us, because he hates us. 28 Where can we go? Our brothers have made us lose heart,[c] saying: The people are larger and taller than we are; the cities are large, fortified to the heavens. We also saw the descendants of the Anakim there.’
29 “So I said to you: Don’t be terrified or afraid of them! 30 The Lord your God who goes before you will fight for you, just as you saw him do for you in Egypt. 31 And you saw in the wilderness how the Lord your God carried you as a man carries his son all along the way you traveled until you reached this place. 32 But in spite of this you did not trust the Lord your God, 33 who went before you on the journey to seek out a place for you to camp. He went in the fire by night and in the cloud by day to guide you on the road you were to travel.
34 “When the Lord heard your[d] words, he grew angry and swore an oath: 35 ‘None of these men in this evil generation will see the good land I swore to give your ancestors, 36 except Caleb the son of Jephunneh. He will see it, and I will give him and his descendants the land on which he has set foot, because he remained loyal to the Lord.’
37 “The Lord was angry with me also because of you and said, ‘You will not enter there either. 38 Joshua son of Nun, who attends you, will enter it. Encourage him, for he will enable Israel to inherit it. 39 Your children, who you said would be plunder, your sons who[e] don’t yet know good from evil, will enter there. I will give them the land, and they will take possession of it. 40 But you are to turn back and head for the wilderness by way of the Red Sea.’
41 “You answered me, ‘We have sinned against the Lord. We will go up and fight just as the Lord our God commanded us.’ Then each of you put on his weapons of war and thought it would be easy to go up into the hill country.
42 “But the Lord said to me, ‘Tell them: Don’t go up and fight, for I am not with you to keep you from being defeated by your enemies.’ 43 So I spoke to you, but you didn’t listen. You rebelled against the Lord’s command and defiantly went up into the hill country. 44 Then the Amorites who lived there came out against you and chased you like a swarm of bees. They routed you from Seir as far as Hormah. 45 When you returned, you wept before the Lord, but he didn’t listen to your requests or pay attention to you. 46 For this reason you stayed in Kadesh as long as you did.[f]